The Internship & Placement Unit uses ‘placement’ to describe a period of time spent away from College in industry that counts towards your degree classification. We see them as different to ‘internships’ which are not part of your course. Placements are a great way to get experience. They tend to be for a longer time period than a summer internship and provide an opportunity for you to get more involved in the work of your host organisation. You should be given projects to complete, similar to that of a graduate in their first year of work. The work should be related to your course. You may even return to College with a graduate job offer!

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At Imperial various departments offer industrial placements. The length of the placement varies depending on your course. Some are 12 - 16 weeks, six months or a full 'Year in Industry'. If your department offers a year in industry, you will need to be registered on the appropriate degree title e.g. 'Chemistry with a Year in Industry'. It is at your Department's discretion whether you can take the year in industry option so talk to the member of staff responsible for placements in your department if you are not registered on the correct degree title.

Some Year Abroad placements may include an internship and there are also degrees that include Research Abroad. A full list of these options can be found on the Registry webpage.

Does my course include a placement?

The following departments offer placements. Please note that there may be further variations available - it is always worth speaking with your department. You can apply to take a year off from College and will not have student status during this year. You will need permission from someone in your Department and will also need to discuss it with Registry.

Does my course include a placement?

Aeronautics

Placement details:

Optional placement year available as year 4 of a 5 year MEng degree. The MEng includes a compulsory four month project during final year (February to May), which can be undertaken in industry.

Contact:

For final year projects - Dr Errikos Levis
For other placement enquiries - Dr Francesco Montomoli

Bioengineering

Placement details: 

The MEng includes an optional placement year available as year 4 of a 5 year MEng degree.

Contact: 

Mr Robert Ferguson

Chemistry

Placement details: 

An optional year in industry placement is available as Year 4 of a 5 year MSci or BSc degree.

Contacts: 

Jo Rimmer, Industrial Liaison Officer (until mid-May 2016)
Student Office, Department of Chemistry (thereafter)

Computing

Placement details: 

Six month placement compulsory for third year MEng students between April & September. Four month placements for third year MEng Maths & Computer Science students from June - September.

Contact: 

Ms Victoria Nicholl

Design Engineering

Placement details: 

The Design Engineering course has a placement from April to September during year 3 of a 4 year MEng degree.

Electrical & Electronic Engineering

Placement details: 

Six month placement optional for third years on MEng courses between April & September.

Contact: 

Ms Clare Drysdale 

Life Sciences

Placement details: 

Year in industry option available. You go on placement in year 3 of a 4 year BSc.

Contact: 

Biochemistry/Biotechnology - Dr Ernesto Cota
Biology/Biological Sciences - Dr Laurence Bugeon

Materials

Placement details: 

12 - 16 week summer placement compulsory at the end of year 3 of the MEng.

Contact: 

Dr. Mark Wenman

Mechanical Engineering

Placement details: 

Year in industry degree option, normally taken as Year 3 of a 5 year MEng. Also available as part of a 5 year MEng with a study year abroad.

Contact: 

Dr Jonathan Jeffers

How to find a placement

We advertise placement vacancies on JobsLive, listed as Placement (4 - 12 months). Set your profile to receive details of new vacancies. Your department's industrial liaison contact may also advertise opportunities directly in your department. Click on your department above for details of the relevant contacts. For other tips see our page on searching for a job

Your department in conjunction with the Careers Service usually offer a talk to give help finding and applying for placements so look out for this!

Things to consider when deciding whether to do a placement

Whilst there are many benefits to completing a placement, you should carefully think about your decision. Below are some factors to consider, speak to someone in your department if you need further help. 

Factors to consider

Accommodation

If you are renting accommodation in the private sector ensure you sign an appropriate length of lease to fit in with your placement plans. You may need to move anywhere in the UK for your placement.

Summer internships

Most placements will run over the summer period and restrict your ability to complete a summer internship. Consider your future career plan and whether you need to do a summer internship instead. Some sectors such as investment banking will recruit many of their graduates directly from their summer interns. See a Placement & Internship Adviser or Careers Consultant if you are unsure about this. 

Friends

Remember that particularly for year in industry placements you will be removed from your cohort of fellow students and will join the year below when you return from placement - but the placement itself is a chance to meet colleagues and make new friends!  

Location

Do consider the industry you want to get into and where placements are likely to be located. For instance 17% of Engineering employment is in the West Midlands compared to only 3% in London (Source: Semta LMI report March 2010 and West Midlands Engineering Skills Balance Sheet Executive Summary 2008)

Workload

Finding a placement will take considerable time management and energy. Ensure you are organised to put the time in alongside your academic workload.

Should I be paid for a placement?

3 We believe you should be paid and do not advertise any unpaid opportunities on JobsLive, unless they are for a charity or statutory body. Most Imperial students will be paid for their placements but salaries vary depending on the sector.

During your research you may find some unpaid placements, because students doing work experience as part of a Higher Education course are exempt from the National Minimum Wage, as long as the placement does not exceed one year.

When under taking a year in industry placement, whether it is paid or unpaid, students who have been receiving financial assistance from Student Finance England will continue to do so. This includes a tuition fee loan (your tuition fee will be reduced) and a reduced rate living cost loan.

Unpaid year in industry placements in some sectors (such as in hospitals, primary care trusts, local authority children's services, prisons and research in UK institutions) will be eligible for a means tested living cost loan, as you would have in previous years of study.

For further advice speak to Imperial Student Hub or Student Finance England remembering to quote your Customer Reference Number.

Accepting offers

Once a job offer is made, you should aim to reply as soon as possible. However, do not rush your decision; ask for some time if you need to. If you accept an offer you are entering into a contract with the company and you should not back out as it may affect your reputation and future chances of employment with that organisation.

If you are in the lucky position of having more than one job offer see our information on evaluating offers.

Professional conduct

Whilst on placement you should adhere to your employer’s terms and conditions set out in your contract of employment. This may include non-disclosure agreements if you are working on anything confidential. If you are unsure, speak with your deaprtment or HR staff at your host company.

You are representing Imperial College and should abide by the Off Site Working Policy and safety information.

Take note of health and safety procedures and ensure you have a health and safety induction. Your employer should follow the Health and Safety Executive Guidance.